Both chambers of Congress are out of session for the month of August, during which NAWG is providing only short news updates. Regular news stories will return in September.
Senate Ag Holds Farm Bill Field Hearing in Kansas
Representatives from major farm associations in Kansas described the importance of the farm bill safety net to their operations at a farm bill field hearing held by the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee on Thursday in Wichita.
David Schemm, president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and a member of the NAWG Board of Directors, testified on behalf of his state association, telling Members that wheat growers are aware of the budgetary challenges facing farm policy but are still hopeful careful consideration can produce a workable safety net. Schemm told Members he could think of “no better year in my 18 years as a producer” that shows the need for federal farm programs, with growers facing historic weather events around the country.
Written testimony from the hearing is available by clicking on the Aug. 25 box at http://ag.senate.gov/site/calendar.html. Audio from the field hearing is at http://farmpolicy.com/2011/08/26/farm-bill-issues-ag-economy-cftc-issue-and-trade/.
Super Committee Work Starts, Unofficially
Budget “super committee” chairs Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said this week they are working together to “ensure that the committee we help build is given every opportunity to succeed”. In a joint statement, the two leaders said they are working on logistical items for the committee’s operation, including rules, meeting schedules and committee staff. They also said they are looking at the myriad deficit reviews already done by Congressional, administrative and outside groups.
The group, formally known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, was formed following the early-August debt ceiling compromise and is charged with identifying about $1.5 trillion in cuts to the federal budget. Both the House and Senate must vote on its final product by Dec. 23 or automatic reductions will be taken across federal spending.
Rumors Surface of Highway Bill Movement
Hill-publication CQ reported this week that Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has readied two surface transportation measures for consideration when Congress returns from August recess. Boxer is said to have plans for both a new short-term extension of the sweeping law as well as for a longer-term solution. The last comprehensive law authorizing federal highway projects, federal motor carrier safety programs and other similar programs expired in 2009, after which federal work in this area has been governed by short-term measures. The current short-term extension expires at the end of September.
Policy Leaders Talk Farm Bill with Media
Farm policy leaders outside the Beltway during the August break have given a number of interesting interviews this week with regards to the upcoming farm bill. Here are a few:
A conversation between House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Oklahoma farm broadcaster Ron Hays is at http://www.oklahomafarmreport.com/wire/news/2011/08/media/00535_FrankLucasPodacast08232011.mp3.
A response from Secretary Tom Vilsack to a question about the upcoming farm bill is at http://farmpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/SecVilsackFarmBill11AugustIowaStateFair.mp3.
A quick interview with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow following this week’s field hearing is available from Agri-Pulse at http://www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/Stabenow082511.mp3.
Registration Open for Fall Wheat Conference
Registration is now open for the Fall Wheat Conference, the joint fall Board meetings of NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates. The conference is scheduled for Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale outside of Phoenix, Ariz. Growers, staff and other attendees can get more information about the agenda, registration and meal tickets at http://www.wheatworld.org/meetings-events/fallconference/.
Applications for WILOT Training Due Sept. 30
Applications for the 2011 Wheat Industry Leaders of Tomorrow (WILOT) program are due Sept. 30. The program is sponsored annually by Monsanto for farmers who want to become more involved – or involved for the first time – in wheat grower associations. WILOT 2011 is scheduled for Nov. 12 to 17 in St. Louis. More information about the program and the application process is available at www.wheatworld.org/meetings-events/leadership-training.
Shake, Rattle and Roll
An abnormally pleasant and serene August recess day was disrupted Tuesday by the largest earthquake recorded in the region since the 1800s. The 5.8 temblor caught NAWG’s staff – and everyone else – by surprise, causing more fear than damage in a region primed to be anticipating terrorist attack. All NAWG and U.S. Wheat staff members in the area were quickly accounted for and confirmed safe, barring some rattled nerves. The NAWG Foundation’s building on Capitol Hill, the Wheat Growers Building, also fared well. Efforts have now turned to the next anticipated natural disaster – Hurricane Irene, set to swipe D.C. over the weekend. We offer our thanks to those in the wheat family who have checked in on us and shared their earthquake management experience in recent days!